Klatovská třída / Klatovská Avenue

(Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7277805, 13.3677864

As its name suggests, Klatovská Avenue was the result of urbanisation of the road leading from Pilsen to Klatovy, the second largest town in the region, and further on to Železná Ruda and the land borders. During the stormy development of the city in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the last century, it became the main city boulevard and vector of Pilsen's development towards the south. It is still of key importance for the city today, as it is part of the most important urban axis (and of busy roads at the same time), which passes through the city in the north-south direction along Karlovarská třída, General Patton Bridge and Sady Pětatřicátníků (Gardens of the 35th Infantry Regiment) to the intersection with Husova Street and Smetanovy sady (Smetana Parks). Here it changes to Klatovská Avenue and gradually rises up to the present-day Borský Park and the premises of ​​the Bory Prison, situated on the slope above the České údolí reservoir. The terrain break at the northern edge of the park and the north-eastern tip of the former artillery barracks on the opposite side of the street form a natural topographic boundary of the city. From the prison, Klatovská Avenue continues (in the track of the former “Reichsstraße” – imperial road) all the way to Litice, but as a “street”, not an “avenue”.

Similarly to Americká Avenue, the name Klatovská has changed several times in connection with the changes of political regimes and social discourse. From 1879 until the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918, a part of the avenue between the city centre park ring and Hálkova Street carried the name of the Austrian Emperor and the last Czech King Ferdinand I. In 1918 it was renamed to the Avenue of Czech Legionnaires in honour of the participants of the foreign Czech and Slovak military resistance units during the First World War. Other changes to the name, brought about by the establishment of the Protectorate, events of the Second World War, liberation of Czechoslovakia and the installation of the post-February 1948 regime were made in the following chronological order: Klatovská Avenue (1940-1943), Reinhard Heydrich Avenue (1943-1945), Beneš Avenue in the part from the city centre to today’s Náměstí Míru Square (1945-1951), and 1st May avenue (1951-1991); since 1991 it once again carries the name Klatovská Avenue.

Thanks to its favourable topography the surroundings of the former road to Klatovy presented an ideal area for the development of suburban housing. Moreover, unlike other suburbs, it was not separated from the historical centre by river beds and floodplains, or by industrial sites connected to rivers. The first regulatory plan of the Imperial Suburb, including the surroundings of the then Klatovská Street, dates as far back as the 1850s, when the built up area consisting of barns and mostly two-storey suburban buildings began to be transformed into a city avenue. The new buildings adjoined the suburban summer residences built earlier beyond the city walls. These were subsequently incorporated into city blocks, and their scale, morphology and extensive gardens were reminiscent of Prague's city palaces. For example, the U Práce crossroads is dominated by the superb Hahnenkam House, which was completed at the end of the 19th century by Emil Škoda, originally with a spacious extensive garden with a fountain.

Apart from the representative residences, numerous apartment buildings arose along the street, built in a chessboard street network until approximately 1910. Authors of adjustments to the regulatory plans abandoned the monotonous rectangular grid at that time, and thus a more imaginative urban planning composition won over in the southern parts of the area around the boulevard – especially in the residential district of Bezovka west of Klatovská Avenue. Nevertheless, the once suburban character of Klatovská Avenue still manifests itself in buildings such as the two-storey houses no. 25 and 32 and the building of the former Agrarian School (no. 90) in the block between Stehlíkova and Dobrovského Streets).

The development of the surrounding areas of Klatovská Avenue and the entire suburbs was greatly fostered by the construction of a tram route in 1899, which connected the city centre with the Bory neighbourhood on one side and Lochotín neighbourhood on the opposite side of Pilsen. The introduction of the tram, the terminal station of which was located near Bory Prison, was gradually followed by the paving of sections of the street, planting of alleys – in as many as four rows from Chodské Square to the south ­– and the landscaping of Masaryk Square, Chodské Square and Náměstí Míru (Peace Square).

In addition to these generous open spaces with prominent monuments and buildings of schools and other institutions, constructed in the 1910s-1950s, Klatovská Avenue is interwoven with several other important public spaces from the city centre to the south: the mouth of Husova Street, to which the main entrance to the Great Theatre building turns and the nearby U Práce area, where Klatovská crosses the line of Tylova Street and the “bay” of Americká Avenue or the so-called Belánka at the intersection of Borská and U Trati streets. Just before the intersection and the former site of the engineering works of the Belani Brothers, whose reconstruction and conversion into a residential block in the 1930s united the adjacent part of the boulevard, Klatovská Avenue crosses the railway corridor of the Cheb-Domažlice line. The slopes of the railway body and the area at the nearby platforms of the Pilsen – Říšské (Jižní) Předměstí / Imperial (Southern) Suburb station were landscaped in 1900.

Among the public areas connected to Klatovská Avenue is also the modest space at the entrances to the building of the former Czechoslovak State Grammar School (C3–1736) at the intersection of Stehlíkova Street and the building of the State German Technical School in Pilsen on the edge of Náměstí Míru square where the boulevard bends southwest. Between these points, in the block between the streets V Bezovce and Hruškova, the development on the western side of Klatovská Avenue is significantly less dense, as it is here that Klatovská Avenue forms a boundary of the Bezovka residential area. The last public space to adjoin Klatovská Avenue is the largest of Pilsen’s parks – Borský Park / Bory Park, founded in 1914 and originally called Guldenerovy sady, which lies at the southern border of the Bory neighbourhood.

The development of Klatovská Avenue was formed almost fully before the Second World War. Only the surroundings of the future Sukova and Boettingerova Streets and the current Náměstí Míru Square were completed in the post-war decades. However, the most distinctive realisation of this period became a complex of office buildings opposite the former Redemptorist monastery (C3–45). The complex, set back from the Klatovská Street boundary, replaced one of the original residential blocks.

The whole Klatovská Avenue underwent a much more significant transformation in the second half of the 20th century. After the approval of a new zoning plan in 1966, blanket demolitions in the Sady Pětatřicátníků / Gardens of the 35th Infantry Regiment and the construction of the present General Patton Bridge with a new section of Karlovarská Avenue connecting the city centre to the Northern Suburb housing estate, it turned into one of the busiest transport arteries in Pilsen. The representative city boulevard, along which, for example, the residences of most of Adolf Loos' clients were concentrated, thus for a long time was in line with Modernist views and dominated by individual car transport. This unfortunate situation continues to this day. Little has been changed by the mediocre architecture of modern multifunctional buildings either at the mouth of Boettingerova Street and across from Belánka, which filled the hitherto empty spaces or plots opened by demolition in the past in an “acupuncture” style.

JČ – MK – PK